Ultimately, much of this a translation issue – but too few people are able or willing to translate.
Maybe “playing” with our consciousness…feeling our energy, transcending the mundane…releases dopamine. And maybe the release of dopamine is what is going on when we “open the solar plexus chakra.” Perhaps “opening the heart chakra” is akin to – or the same as – experiencing a flood of oxytocin. I make no claims as to what is actually happening in or around our bodies when we work with energy and consciousness. I don’t think any of us can. But, as with placebo effect, we are overlooking the most important aspects of these experiences. If the energy from a person’s hand five inches above our skin can flood us with dopamine….if we can think our way into an oxytocin bath…if we can alter water or change our DNA with our energy…science has no business ignoring it. The potential of human minds, independently and in collaboration, should be the business of science.
So yes, in my practice I speak of chakras, because I know of no other way to acknowledge the power of our own consciousness and its relationship to what is happening throughout our bodies. Fraught as it is with non-falsifiable (and sometimes nonsensical) claims, it is an excellent tool. It is a way to think about our health and wellness holistically, energetically and vibrationally. I speak of “energy” and “vibrations,” even though I cannot tell you exactly how that works. I use ritual objects because I understand the power of ritual and symbolism in mindfulness and consciousness practices.
The most important lesson I have learned in my adult life is: I don’t know. Someday, I trust, we will know. People will look back at our “energy healing,” and our ESP stories and our psychic mediums, and perhaps even our religiosity all as primitive attempts to understand experiences that fall outside of what we now understand as empiricism. They will figure out a higher percentage of the human brain, and laugh at our post-Enlightenment mind/body split the way we laugh at the idea of humorism (which, at the very least, understood a relationship between body, mind and mood, and which was not all that far off from chakras, nor from current science around the role of bacteria in the gut).
In the meantime, there are forays into understanding chakras and Reiki, some scientific and valid…and some less so. Because it’s all we’ve got, I’ll keep adding them to the sidebar on this page. (Please feel free to drop me a note if you find new research before I do.)
Experience. Inquire. Read. Think. Open-minded does not mean believing without evidence. But rational does not mean close-minded.